The Royal College of Nursing’s new president has warned of a challenging year ahead and called on nurses to “campaign together” for better patient care.
Starting her first week in post as RCN president, Cecilia Anim today set out her priorities for 2015 in a new year message to all nursing staff.
She told RCN members that she was “very aware of the challenges we face as a profession” and warned that “2015 will be another challenging year”.
“We all need to campaign together to protect and improve the quality of patient care”
In particular, she focused on the need to tackle staffing shortages and efforts to improve pay for nursing staff – the source of an increasingly bitter dispute between unions and the government.
“Nursing staff are working in increasingly tough times,” she said. “Morale is low, pressures are higher than any of us can remember with no sign of any let up, and nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are not being rewarded as they should be.
“I am determined to campaign hard to make sure everyone gets the pay they deserve, to protect pay and conditions, and to defend nursing from more damaging cuts,” she added.
“We need a long term strategy for the health service, and proper investment to prevent the current crisis from becoming the norm,” said Ms Anim. “But I can’t do it on my own – we all need to campaign together to protect and improve the quality of patient care.”
As previously reported by Nursing Times, the RCN is planning to launch an extra hours campaign early this year.
It will be asking members to highlight their value by recording the actual hours worked and seeking to have their contractual rights met. Further details on the campaign are expected soon.
Ms Anim also thanked nursing staff for their hard work during 2014, particularly if they had worked over Christmas.
She added that she was also “determined” to celebrate the nursing profession’s successes during her two-year tenure as president.
“As the patients you care for recognise, you and all the RCN’s members are doing an amazing job in the most testing of circumstances,” he said.
Ms Anim was elected RCN president in November, becoming the first black minority ethnic nurse in the college’s 99 year history to be elected to its highest office.